I’ve always been used to living with a small family. In the most limited terms, my nuclear family consists of only my mom, my dad and me, and the extended family living near us back home in Georgia is a small group of my aunt, uncle, two cousins, and grandmother. With the rest of my extended network scattered across the country – from Washington, to Illinois, to Utah, to Hawaii, to Maine – our opportunities for face time have always been few and far between. I never experienced sibling squabbles or sibling bonding, massive family reunions or series of weddings, graduations and baby showers, or even a Christmas dinner of more than ten people. Rather, I grew up forming deep attachments to a small number of people close to me, and as a result, I grew accustomed to frequent visits, exchanges of love and support, and giving of gifts, favors, time, and attention to those that I loved; it sustained us all.
Coming to the Academy, then, took me entirely aback. I suddenly found myself part of a new company family of 100, a class family of almost 300, a corps family of 1000, and a Coast Guard family of many thousands. However, the obligations of a good family member, to me, did not change; I still owed my time, my affection, and my devotion to all my new brothers and sisters of the Coast Guard, and I found that they gave the same in return. Whether it was helping a shipmate with their Calculus homework 4/c year, accepting help from a stand-in on an OOD day, or commiserating with a classmate over how much work we have on any given night, the dynamics within the corps are consistently fraternal, compassionate, and supportive.
To my delight, my integration into the new families of the Coast Guard and the corps have not meant distancing myself from my other family at all; each accepts and values the other as each has accepted and valued me. Nothing warms my heart more than watching my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins interacting with my friends and companions from school. To see that my family from home is willing to immerse themselves in my new world, and that fellow cadets will take them in like they took me in, makes me feel at home even far from where I grew up. I have learned, from my family in Georgia and my family in here at CGA, to form close ties with a vast array of people, and I couldn’t be happier with the companions I’ve met over the past three years.
More about Jessie.